Losing Pounds in London
There are probably thousands of blogs, articles, and websites that will tell you the best ways to budget your money while abroad. I’m just here to tell you what works best for me.
To be honest, I am not the best with money, and my father will attest to that. As a college student working only 15 hours per week for minimum wage, managing 15 credits per semester while ensuring a spot on the Dean’s list, and often paying around 15 dollars per meal, saving money isn’t easy. Especially when I want nothing more than to experience every bit of what this life, and this world, has to offer.
However, as I approach my last 3 months of university life (and make use of the last 3 dollars in my bank account while in London), I am beginning to realize the importance of truly budgeting my money. I thought saving money at home was hard, but pinching pennies abroad is nearly impossible! It is so much easier to lose some Pounds (£) over here! <— HA
Here are my tips for budgeting abroad:
KNOW YOUR EXCHANGE RATE
This sounds like an obvious part of traveling to a different country, but trust me it’s easy to neglect after an extended amount of time overseas. Purchasing a Starbuck’s coffee for £3 seems reasonable, until you remember that actually equates to about $5 US dollars! Still doesn’t seem like much? Well IT ADDS UP QUICKLY. What works best for me (at least while in the UK), is to double every price I see. I don't really need that latte anymore, once I remember the exchange rate.
USE CASH, NOT CARD
Most places will accept the use of credit card in Europe — MasterCard, VISA. But I’ve found that using cash is always more convenient AND much better for a budget. Cash allows you to physically see how much you have spent, whereas numbers you swipe on your card are lost somewhere in online banking statements that you’re probably too afraid to look at. I suggest taking out weekly allotments of cash during your travels. Allow yourself a certain amount per week, and use your card ONLY if you absolutely need to. Find partner banks that will not charge you for cash withdrawal at ATM’s.
SET ASIDE A “FUN FUND”
This is my favorite tip, because having money to create a memory is the best way to splurge while traveling. If you want to go skydiving, get the view from the London Eye, attend a theater show or concert, buy that touristy shirt you'll never wear, take a boat tour through the canals, taste a country’s signature dish, or hop over to a neighboring country for the weekend.. you’re going to need some extra cash. This is why it will be important to set aside whatever your budget allows for some splurging. You’ll be thankful you had a couple hundred dollars to make the most of your time abroad. And don't forget there are many things you can do for free to have an equally memorable experience!